NRL Round 23: Broncos 30, Cowboys 14

Brisbane travelled to Queensland Country Bank Stadium to take two points off their rivals the North Queensland Cowboys in an action-packed contest.

Result

Brisbane Broncos 30
Tries: (5) Jesse Arthars 6th; Patrick Carrigan 23rd; Ezra Mam 52nd; Reece Walsh 72nd; Selwyn Cobbo 78th
Goals: (5) Kotoni Staggs 7th, 25th, 47th, 54th, 80th

North Queensland Cowboys 14
Tries: (3) Kyle Feldt 12th, 58th; Heilum Luki 74th
Goals: (1) Chad Townsend 39th

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The Brisbane Broncos looked to draw level with league leaders Penrith Panthers with a victory from their travels to rivals North Queensland Cowboys. An electric atmosphere emanated from a packed Queensland Country Bank Stadium and the first half provided rugby league to live up to the hype.

Extreme physicality on display from the Broncos’ middles gave them the upper hand early doors, which ultimately paid off on the scoreboard with Jesse Arthars breaking the deadlock the set straight after the visitors held off an early attacking raid from the Cowboys.

It wasn’t long before the Cowboys replied in the 12th minute, with Kyle Feldt going over down the Cowboys’ left edge to cut the lead to two points after a missed conversion from Chad Townsend.

The two sides continued to uphold an elite level of intensity through the opening exchanges, and Brisbane fired two warning shots just over half-way through the first half before Pat Carrigan made the Cowboys pay for good with his second career try. Stand-in kicker Kotoni Staggs kept his record faultless with the conversion and Brisbane led 12-4.

A number of near misses populated the second part of the first half and, at the back end of which, North Queensland were in the ascendency. Doing everything but scoring, the home side forced a number of penalties on the Brisbane line on the stroke of half-time – the last of which was converted by Townsend for two points to cut the lead to six going into half-time.

The second half kicked off with the same elite intensity, and Brisbane marched up the pitch early on with the help of referee Gerard Sutton, ultimately forcing a penalty for a crusher tackle in front of the Cowboys’ sticks for Staggs to convert with ease, and push the Broncos’ lead out to eight points.

After a contentious refereeing decision down the other end, Brisbane broke and extended their lead on the 53-minute mark with Carrigan breaking the line on a lead line to supply Ezra Mam on the inside who finished under the sticks. Staggs made no mistake with the easy conversion and the Broncos led 20-6.

Selwyn Cobbo went close to breaking the Cowboys’ defence again with a mammoth 50 metre run from his own half only to spurn possession with a wayward pass to his teammate.

The Cowboys made no mistake and used the gift to force a goal-line drop-out down the other end and punish the visiting Broncos with a shift to Feldt down the left edge, who made no mistake and bustled over through two players. Townsend missed the conversion to bring the margin down to eight points, but the Cowboys’ spirits were high with the score at 20-10 in favour of the Broncos.

Brisbane came back and were dominant in the ensuing sets only to have a scoring opportunity bombed by Brendan Piakura to give the Cowboys another lifeline in the game. The Cowboys looked to make them pay and had all but scored before two try-saving plays from Ezra Mam, though the pressure didn’t relent with Kurt Capewell making an error on the ensuing set just metres from his own line.

The Cowboys battered the Broncos’ line but the defence suffocated the playmakers, ultimately forcing an error from Luciano Leilua on the first tackle of a repeat set to completely release the pressure built by North Queensland.

The Broncos made them pay for the lack of clinicality, and Reece Walsh pounced on a loose ball from a Staggs break down the right edge to score, after which Staggs had an appalling conversion effort from close to the posts hit the right hand upright. The Cowboys answered back off the set following the kick off and made a relaxed Brisbane defence pay to cut the lead to 10 points after Townsend missed with an equally appalling conversion attempt.

With the Cowboys chasing the game when it was all but over in the final minute, Tom Dearden produced a horrific pass on his own line to gift Selwyn Cobbo a try and put the final score line 30-14 in favour of a dominant Broncos side.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR POINTS

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3 – Ezra Mam (Broncos)
2 – Pat Carrigan (Broncos)
1 – Reece Walsh (Broncos)

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